Re-greening Urban food deserts

Sebastian von Holstein
Friday, 28th June 2013

How many people do you think live in food deserts? Ron Finley, a guerrilla gardener from South Central Los Angeles explains that it might be a little more than we believe. 26.5 million Americans live in food poverty. This is not due a lack of food, it is a lack of access to food quality and security.

In typical permaculture fashion, Ron identifies that the problem is also the solution. Food is the problem and food is also the solution. With a lack of safe, healthy, organic food, he turned the sidewalk outside of his house into a food paradise. With the help of gardeners from all backgrounds and walks of life, the volunteer group turned what was a piece of useless grass patch into some of the healthiest food in the city.

In an area of California, where Ron says there are more drive-through's than drive-by's, he came under pressure from the city council to remove his edible garden from the street. Luckily, people rose up and fought for the garden to stay. Ron says: "I'm an artist and gardening is my graffiti, I grow my art. Just like a graffiti artist, where they beautify walls, I beautify parkways".

This art is the vehicle for community change, it allows children and adults alike to develop their approach to life and towards the things they really value, such as health and the source of wellbeing in the form of artistic expression and food. The Green Grounds group now guerrilla gardens all over the city, in homeless shelters, on sidewalks and empty lots, in an attempt to allow people to regain their health if they so choose to. Ron is inspiring his community to choose a healthy, sustainable future as an option. Guerrilla gardening isn't about talking, its about doing! 

Further reading

Watch how L.A.'s guerrilla gardeners turning urban wastelands into public gardens Meet the Guerilla fruit tree grafters

When artists turn suburban lawns into food gardens

Why we should make more food parks in urban areas

Revive old and dull walls: How to Make Your Own Moss Graffiti

Taking Flowers to the London Underground - wildflowers in the urban environment

See how art is being used to promote permaculture ethics